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Two Winners--Again--in Local News Ratings

December 02, 1988|STEVE WEINSTEIN

The November ratings sweeps failed to clarify which local TV station is unquestionably entitled to the all-important promotional mantle: "the Southland's No. 1 news station."

Following the last major sweeps period in May, both KNBC-TV Channel 4 and KABC-TV Channel 7 laid claim to the title--Channel 4 winning the battle as measured by the A.C. Nielsen Co., while Channel 7 won in the rival Arbitron ratings book.

Ditto this month, according to figures released Thursday. KABC swept all four head-to-head news time periods in Arbitron, while KNBC took all four time slots (4, 5, 6 and 11 p.m.) in Nielsen.

The discrepancy between the two ratings services is most easily explained by the fact that each monitors an entirely different sample of local households to determine local ratings.

There was no discrepancy for KCBS-TV Channel 2, however, as the CBS station again trailed in all local news time periods in both ratings services--although, thanks to a big boost from "Geraldo," it did narrow the gap slightly on the 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts.

Meanwhile, syndicated reruns of "The Cosby Show" on KCOP Channel 13 won the 6 p.m. time period as expected, beating newscasts on the network-owned stations and "Magnum, P.I." "Three's Company" and "The A-Team" on the other three independents. But "Cosby's" 9.6 Nielsen rating (where each rating point equals 48,002 homes) was far short of what KCOP management had predicted the high-priced program would earn when the show premiered last October.

"Cosby" also failed to propel the station to significant ratings victories in subsequent time periods. Despite the "Cosby" lead-in, reruns of "Gimme a Break" at 6:30 p.m., for example, were only third in the time period behind reruns of "Family Ties" on KTTV Channel 11 and the "NBC Nightly News" on KNBC.

In other sweeps highs and lows (using Nielsen numbers unless otherwise specified):

Oprah's diet beats Geraldo's riot: With KABC running the program in which the once-plump TV star revealed the secrets of her rapid weight loss twice during the month, Oprah Winfrey again proved to be L.A.'s favorite talk show host. In head-to-head competition with KNBC's "Donahue" at 3 p.m., "The Oprah Winfrey Show" scored an 8.1 rating to its rival's 4.9. KCBS, which matched KABC's ploy by airing the "Geraldo" episode that turned into all-out brawl twice in a two-week span, cut deeply into the local news on KABC and KNBC at 4 p.m. by earning a respectable 6.6 rating with Geraldo Rivera's talk show during the month.

Morning talk: KABC's perennial champ, "A.M. Los Angeles," with Steve Edwards and Cristina Ferrare, crushed its new rival, "Live with Regis and Kathie Lee." Regis Philbin's nationally syndicated show, which premiered on KHJ-TV Channel 9 last September, came in dead last at 9 a.m., even losing to reruns of "Laverne & Shirley" on KTLA Channel 5 and "The Dukes of Hazzard" on KCOP.

As the "Wheel" turns: "Wheel of Fortune" again won the hotly contested 7 p.m. time slot for Channel 13 in a narrow victory over Channel 5's sitcom "Charles in Charge," "Entertainment Tonight" on Channel 4, "MASH" on Channel 11, "World News Tonight" on Channel 7 and Channel 9's "Love Connection." Channel 2's "USA Today" came in last in the time period, garnering less than half the audience of most of its competitors.

7:30 p.m.: Fox's tabloid smash, "A Current Affair," beat all of the competition in this important time slot. With a 10.1 Nielsen rating, "Current Affair" on KTTV was the month's highest-rated show outside of prime time, just nipping KABC's "Eye on L.A." KCOP's "Jeopardy!" was third, KTLA's collection of sitcoms placed fourth, and KHJ's "Win, Lose or Draw" was fifth. The two ballyhooed newcomers, "Family Feud" on KNBC and "The Gong Show" on KCBS, trailed far behind. (Arbitron's ratings differed significantly from the Nielsen numbers here, putting "Jeopardy!" on top, with "A Current Affair" and "Eye on L.A." tied for second.

Independent news: KTLA Channel 5 once again dominated the 10 p.m. news race. Channel 11 was second and Channel 13 was a close third. KHJ's 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. newscasts matched or bettered Channel 11's and 13's ratings at 10 p.m., but fell far short of those earned by Channel 5.

Spanish-language television: KMEX Channel 34 holds an overall lead in the ratings over its rival KVEA Channel 52, especially in prime time. But KVEA showed a marked improvement in its daytime ratings over the last sweeps period, capturing half of all Spanish-language viewers watching television between noon and 4 p.m.

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